May Homecoming Revisits Knox Historical Events
In a Homecoming event unlike any other, alumni from classes ending in 0, 1, 5, and 6 celebrated Reunions, including a 50th Reunion for classes of 1970 and 1971, which had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The May Homecoming brought more than 400 alumni to Knox to reconnect with one another and enjoy campus in the spring.
Nancy Hoover Debelius ’70, Marc Wollman ’70, Ralph Norman’70, and Susan Camp Norman ’70 reunited during the event. They were thrilled to see new things on campus and revisit the old. “We’re here almost exactly 52 years from the date we graduated,” said Susan. “What a nice time to visit.”
Jerry Tatar ’71, one of the organizers for his Reunion, presented a convocation speech that pointed out the differences between the Class of ’70, which rocked out to “Happy Together,” by the Turtles as they made their way into Kresge Hall, and the Class of ’71, which fought through tumultuous societal changes more in line with Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out for Summer.” His classmates are “witnesses to the impact of a Knox education by challenging the way things are done … and impacting everything they touch.”
The Classes of ’70 and ’71 presented a gift of $1,885,300 to continue their legacies and impact on the College. Merry Sloan Mosbacher ’80 and Hardika Shah ’92 were presented Alumni Achievement Awards, and Shane Fogerty ’09 received the Young Alumni Achievement Award at a Friday night event that was briefly interrupted by a tornado warning. The Scroll of Honor and Knox Service Award recipients were also recognized.
John Podesta ’71, a former Alumni Achievement Award recipient who served in two presidential administrations, is chair and counselor of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a think tank in Washington, D.C., as well as a visiting professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center. He joined three students and Duane Oldfield, professor of political science, for a discussion of the political landscape. He recalled his early forays into politics at Knox when he and other students took over Old Main in support of civil rights initiatives. He urged current students to “find something you are passionate about, stick with it, and take opportunities that come your way.
“Knox helps you to explore, dabble, see what your passions are,” Podesta said. “Try to find what you find meaningful and what you love to do.”
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The history of diversity was explored in a panel featuring alumni. Brenda Butler ’71, a former Chicago Tribune editor and one of the founders of A.B.L.E. (Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality) at Knox, moderated "Pathway to Progress: A panel discussion on the importance of diversity from 1967-2021." Alfreda Williams ’69, inaugural president of A.B.L.E., recalled how Black students were marginalized and how she made a note to herself after finishing her first year. “When I go back to Knox, I’m going to start a Black student union,” Williams said. “It took two years to organize. In 1968, A.B.L.E. was recognized by the College, and we presented ten demands to President Sharvey Umbeck. We wanted to help shape the direction of Knox, so that it would be warm and welcoming for everyone.”
Lynn Strand McIntosh ’71 moderated the panel discussion "Knox HERstory from 1967 to today: A panel discussion on female empowerment and gender equality." In the early ’70s, female students faced a number of restrictions, including a curfew and a three feet on the floor rule when visiting with male students. Despite attempts to discourage serious relationships, Lynn was able to meet her husband, Mark ’72. “We wouldn’t be here and our children wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Knox,” said Lynn. Four of their five children also attended Knox.
Lynn Chasson ’84 traveled from Milan, Italy, to visit Knox—the first time she’d been back on campus in the spring since graduating. Visiting with Valerie Andrew ’84, who is her regular Homecoming partner, was one draw, but getting to catch up with Jorge Prats, professor emeritus of Spanish, was the main reason. “I came specifically to say hello to Jorge. I studied with him in Barcelona in 1982.” Prats was honored during the dedication of a new soccer scoreboard and the Prats Field Archway during Homecoming.
Published on May 27, 2022